Serial Arsonist Targets Bethany Neighborhood

Tuesday, October 7th 2014, 7:15 pm
By: News 9

A serial arsonist has struck again.

For the third week in a row, someone has apparently targeted one or more structures in the area of NW 39th Street and Council Road.

The majority of the fires have been in wooden storage sheds. But, as close as many sheds sit to houses in this area, investigators are concerned that someone is eventually going to be hurt, or even killed.

And they're not the only ones worried.

"All of a sudden, we heard, 'bump bump'...and we said, 'what was that?' Jean Amos recalled. Amos said she and her husband Lyeal were up doing paperwork.

Amos said their lights flickered, "and Lyeal got up and looked out the patio door, and the next-door neighbor's shed was on fire."

Jean Amos would like to say the fire caught her by surprise, but with all the other suspicious fires recently, she admits she was sort of expecting this.

"I had just told my husband a few days ago," explained Amos, "I wondered if we was going to be next -- not dreaming that we would."

The fire began in her neighbor's backyard, burned down the storage shed, reached the eave of the home, and then was starting to move toward their house, just as firefighters got it under control.

"I was just thankful that it wasn't worse," said Amos. "If it'd been windy, why, we wouldn't have a house."

Many others living in the neighborhood are also worried. Since Sept. 24, a home and five sheds have been set on fire. Perhaps not coincidentally, they've all been set late in the evening on Mondays and Wednesdays. Most of the structures have been positioned along or near drainage ditches, one reason why officials in the State Fire Marshal's office believe these have been crimes of opportunity.

9/30/2014 Related Story: Authorities Investigate Multiple Shed Fires In Bethany

"Usually, when someone sets a fire like that," said Sam Schafnit, chief of operations at the fire marshal's office,"there is some sort of satisfaction or enjoyment that they get out of it."

Schafnit said setting the fires becomes "just like a drug and it's just not quite enough. Then they need a little bit more, a little bit better the next time around."

To make sure it never gets to that point, Schafnit said State Fire Marshal agents are working with Bethany Police, who have stepped up patrols in the area.

They are also asking neighbors to secure their property and limit gate access, as well as, keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Jean Amos is doing that, and more.

"I prayed a lot last night."

If you notice anything suspicious in the area call Bethany police at (405) 789-2323